GOREY, or NEWBOROUGH, an incorporated market-town (formerly a parliamentary borough), and a parish, in the barony of GOREY, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 26 ¼ miles (N.) from Wexford, and 48 (S.) from Dublin; containing 4387 inhabitants, of which number, 3044 are in the town. This place derives its modern appellation, Newborough, which has never grown into general use, from a charter of incorporation obtained for the inhabitants in the 17th of James I., by Dr. Thomas Ram, Bishop of Ferns. The Episcopal palace in this town, in which the bishops of that see resided, was, in 1641, attacked by the parliamentarians, who burned the library; the house was subsequently converted into an inn, afterwards into a barrack, and was taken down only within the last few years. In the disturbances of 1798, the town, after the defeat of Col. Walpole at Tubbernearing, fell into the hands of the insurgents, who destroyed the mansions of Ramsfort and Clonatin, the handsome seats of the family of Ram, and several houses belonging to their opponents. After the battle of Vinegar Hill, many of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, who had taken refuge in Wicklow, thinking that order had been restored, ventured to return to their respective homes, but were met by a large party of retreating insurgents and many of them were put to death.

It is situated within two miles of St. George's channel, on the mail coach road from Dublin to Wexford, and consists principally of one long street neatly and uniformly built, containing 543 houses; it is partially paved, and is amply supplied with water from the park by means of a fountain. The neighbourhood is pleasingly diversified with hill and dale, wood and water; and within the circuit of a few miles are several elegant seats and villas standing in grounds tastefully laid out and enriched with thriving plantations. The North Wexford Agricultural Association for the baronies of Gorey, Scarawalsh, and Ballaghkeen, established in 1826, holds its meetings in the town, on the second Tuesday in September, for the distribution of premiums for improvements in agriculture, and for the encouragement of neatness and comfort in cottages; towards which latter the Irish Peasantry Society contributes an annual grant of £20, and its beneficial effects are already exhibited in the superior neatness of the cottages in the neighbourhood. The great show of stock takes place on the same day, and in October is a sale for improved breeds of cattle, when also there is a show of stock; a ploughing match and a show of stock also takes place every spring. The sums distributed in premiums, on an average, amount to nearly £250 per annum; the president, the Earl of Courtown, gives two medals annually for fat cattle and breeding stock, which are adjudged at the spring show.

There is an extensive brewery; flour-mills have been recently erected, and it is in contemplation to erect some cotton-mills and a distillery. A savings' bank has been established in the town. The market is on Saturday, and is abundantly supplied with provisions of all kinds and poultry, especially chickens, for which the place is noted; and on the completion of Courtown harbour the supply of fish will be equally abundant. Fairs are held on the Saturdays before Shrove-Tuesday, and St. Patrick's day; on the Saturdays nearest to April 18th, May 2nd, June 1st, Sept. 29th, and Nov. 28th, and also on the 1st of Jan., 10th of July, 31st of August, and 27th of October, for horses, cattle, and pigs. The market-house is a plain but commodious building, situated in the centre of the town; the upper part, formerly used as a court-house, is now appropriated to the use of the parochial school.

The inhabitants were incorporated by James I., in the 17th of his reign, under the designation of the "Sovereign, burgesses, and free commons of the borough and town of Newborough;" they also received a new charter from James II., which never came into operation. The corporation, under the former, consists of a sovereign, 12 burgesses, and an unlimited number of free commoners, assisted by a recorder, a town-clerk, and other officers. The sovereign, who is also coroner and clerk of the market, is elected by the burgesses; he is, with his predecessor, justice of the peace, and may appoint a deputy. The burgesses, as vacancies occur, are chosen by the sovereign and burgesses from the free commoners, and these are admitted by the sovereign and burgesses; the recorder, who is also town-clerk, is appointed by the corporation. The borough returned members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when it was disfranchised, and the sum of £15,000 awarded as compensation was paid to Stephen Ram, Esq. The corporation was empowered to levy tolls, and to hold courts for the recovery of debts to the amount of £20 late currency; but neither of these privileges is now exercised. Epiphany and Midsummer quarter sessions for the county are held here, and petty sessions on alternate Fridays, which latter are said to have been the first of that kind regularly held in Ireland. The court-house, a neat and appropriate building, was erected in 1819, at the expense of the county, on a site given by the late Stephen Ram, Esq. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town.

The parish, called also Christ-Church-Newborough, or Kilmichaelogue, comprises 5052 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the soil is good, and the system of agriculture improving; much benefit has been derived from the introduction of a better system of draining, and other improvements, under the auspices of the Agricultural Association. Great quantities of poultry are reared in the parish and neighbourhood, and bought by dealers for the Dublin market; the butter also is in very high repute, and forms a material article in the exports from Enniscorthy The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Ferns, united from time immemorial to the rectories of Kilnehue, Kilkevan, and Maglass, together constituting the corps of the deanery of Ferns, in the patronage of the Crown. The tithes amount to £234. 3., and of the whole benefice to £1254. 12. 1 ½. The glebe-house is a neat building, and the glebe comprises 16 acres; there is also a glebe of 24 ½ acres in Kilkevan, and another of 6 acres in Kilnehue, which last has been allotted to the perpetual curate. The church, a spacious structure, in which the Norman and English styles are blended, was erected in 1819, on a site in the principal street given by the late Stephen Ram, Esq., and at an expense of £2200, of which £200 was a gift from Mr. Ram, and £2000 a loan from the late Board of First Fruits.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Kilkevan and Killinor, and part of Kilnehue; the chapel is a spacious edifice at the eastern extremity of the town; there are chapels also at Killanearin in Kilkevan, and at Ballyfad in Killinor. A meeting-house for Wesleyan Methodists, a neat building, has been lately erected in the town. About 90 children are taught in two public schools, of which the parochial school is partly supported by Stephen Ram, Esq., and another by the Rev. A. J. Ram; and there are five private schools, in which are about 250 children, and a Sunday school.

A fever hospital and dispensary were established in 1828; the building, which is just without the town, is of an octagonal form, and comprises four wards, capable of containing 16 beds. A charitable loan fund was formed in 1833, for lending to poor tradesmen sums not exceeding £5, to be repaid by weekly instalments of one shilling in the pound: the issues of the loans average upwards of £130 weekly. The late Hon. and Rt. Rev. Thomas Stopford, D. D., successively Dean of Ferns and Bishop of Cork, bequeathed £200; and the late Joseph Allen, Esq., also left £200, the interest to be annually divided among poor Protestants attending the Established Church. At Clonatin are the ruins of a small ecclesiastical structure, in the Norman style of architecture, supposed to have been a cell to the abbey of Ferns, founded by St. Edan; and it is supposed that the name of the place may be a modification of Cluain-Edan, signifying "the retreat or cell of Edan." Dr. Thomas Ram, Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, was interred in the cemetery of the old church of Gorey, where is an altar-tomb to his memory, with a very curious inscription written by himself.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »